US President Joe Biden has told campaign donors that he wasn’t sure he’d be running for reelection if Donald Trump wasn’t also in the race, saying that democracy is "more at risk in 2024" and that the former president and his allies are out to "destroy" democratic institutions.
President Biden was using a trio of fundraisers on Tuesday to caution against what might happen should his predecessor again claim control of the White House, noting that Trump has described himself as his supporters’ "retribution" and has vowed to root out "vermin" in the country.
"We’ve got to get it done, not because of me. ... If Trump wasn’t running, I’m not sure I’d be running. We cannot let him win," Biden said, hitting the last words slowly for emphasis.
Biden's forceful rhetoric came as Trump, the current GOP front-runner, who tried to overturn the 2020 election he lost and is facing criminal charges connected to those efforts, attempted over the weekend to turn the tables by calling Biden the "destroyer of American democracy."
"American democracy, I give you my word as a Biden, is at stake," the president said at the first of three campaign fundraisers in the Boston area.
Drawing some laughter from donors, Biden also mused: "He didn’t even show up at my inauguration. I can’t say I was disappointed, but he didn’t even show up."
The warnings by Biden are increasingly part of his pitch to donors.
The president is pushing to raise money for his reelection effort before the end of the year, appearing at seven events through Monday — with more to come.
Hoping for new options
In October, Biden and the Democratic National Committee reported raising more than $71 million for his reelection in the three months ending September 30, a sign that donors remained behind him going into the 2024 presidential race.
However, Biden's remarks come as even staunch Democratic voters have expressed concerns about the president's age.
He turned 81 years old last month.
With the potential rematch likely to be between Biden and Trump, many US voters are hoping for younger, less divisive options.
Some 63 percent of US adults currently agree with the statement that the Republican and Democratic parties do "such a poor job" of representing the American people that "a third major party is needed," according to a recent poll by Gallup.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr, who announced his run as an independent candidate in October, could capture 20 percent in a three-way contest with Biden and Trump, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Kennedy is backed by the "American Values 2024" SuperPac, which has raised more than $17 million for his bid from several deep-pocketed donors.
However, since its independence from Great Britain in 1776, the US has never had an independent president.
Out of 46 presidents so far, 19 of them were Republicans, 17 were Democrats, 4 were from the Whig party, 3 were Democratic-Republicans, and 2 were Federalists.